July can be a sludge to get through. Having worn out the excitement of summer back in June, it’s easy to find yourself in a slump, doing the same things over and over again until September brings its chill. This is why I think Fantasia International Film Festival, the Montreal-based Canadian genre film festival showcasing the best niche, B-rated, and low-budget films from all across the world, is perfectly timed.
Here yet again to bring us gems from all over, Fantasia 2023 has an exciting lineup. And since it presented Skinamarink to us last year, it might be fair to say that the festival has more than positioned itself to exceed the highest of expectations. Below, you will find a few of the films we at Film Daze can’t wait to get our eyes on.
- The Abandoned This Taiwanese neo-noir thriller is about two detectives trying to uncover a killer targeting migrant women in the city. Interrogating not only the treatment of Southeast Asian migrants in Taiwan, but also female migrants’ position in patriarchal society, this film seems simultaneously complex and beautiful, and unmissable.
- Apocalypse Clown Directed by George Kane, this comedy follows four clowns and a journalist stranded in the Irish countryside, at a legendary clown teacher’s funeral, when power goes out all across Ireland. It’s clowns in a seeming apocalypse — what more could a person want?
- Where the Devil Roams From the family that brought us Hellbender, this film offers us a family of performers making the carnival circuit in Depression-era America. Promising the horrific and stunning aesthetic sensibilities of the Adams family (John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser), this film promises a genre-bending, occult-drenched good time.
- Booger A feature debut by Mary Dauterman, Booger is a horror comedy that follows a young woman grieving the loss of her best friend as she takes care of that friend’s cat. When the cat bites her, things take a fantastical turn as she begins slowly turning into a cat. Portending a trenchant exploration of friendship and grief, Booger is a debut I would not want to miss!
- Red Rooms This film, from French Canadian director Pascal Plante, portends a skewering of societal obsession with true crime in a sordidly fantastical way. Following a woman as she becomes mired in the crimes of a serial killer whose trial plays out around her, this film promises to evoke memories of Brian De Palma and David Fincher, and seems a super meta quelling of a love for true crime.
- A Reluctant Icon: A tribute to Laura Gemser This short by Kier-La Janisse (the genius behind Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched and the memoir and film analysis hybrid House of Psychotic Women) is presented alongside Emanuelle in America, an Italian sexploitation film from the ‘70s starring Laura Gemser. The short, based on an interview with Italian journalist Manlio Gomarasca, explores Gemser’s life and her position in exploitation cinema. Janisse is my hero and I would gladly gobble up anything she produces.
- Empire V This Russian sci-fi drama was banned in Russia by the Ministry of Culture! Following a journalism student who joins something called “the elite” and becomes a vampire, this film seems super exciting and subversive, not to mention alluring by virtue of its “banned,” verboten aura. It promises searing humor and a John Wick-sian sensibility, and I can’t wait!
- Femme This U.K. thriller, directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping, follows a celebrated drag artist vengefully pursuing their attacker. An exciting reinvention and reinvigoration of the revenge horror sub genre, I’m excited to see how the film offers a subversion of erotic thrillers like Dressed to Kill. Femme seems a trenchant and cunning fusion of genres, carrying conversations of performance and gender to new ground.
- It Lives Inside This film follows an Indian American teen who comes across a demon. A feature debut from Dutta Bishal, this film promises to imbue folk horror tropes with interesting ideas about the immigrant experience, and, being an immigrant kid obsessed with horror, I can’t wait!
- tOuch kink This is a documentary that allows us a look into the kink community by following BDSM, fetishism, and other kink enthusiasts, endeavoring to offer a sympathetic look at desires for freedom and the intricate workings of taboo. It seems fresh and important, and I can’t wait to dig my teeth in.